Cleopatra

  • by Stacy Schiff
  • Narrated by Robin Miles
  • 14 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.
Though her life spanned fewer than 40 years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties.
Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and - after his murder - three more with his Antony. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.
Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way, Cleopatra's supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost.
In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff 's is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.

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What the Critics Say

"An epic subject requires a writer of epic skill and scope, and we have a perfect pairing in Cleopatra and Stacy Schiff. Absorbing and illuminating, this new biography will endure." (Jon Meacham, author of American Lion)
"A Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer presents a swift, sympathetic life of one of history's most maligned and legendary women.... Successfully dissipating all the perfume, Schiff finds a remarkably complex woman - brutal and loving, dependent and independent, immensely strong but finally vulnerable." (Kirkus)
"Captivating...Ms. Schiff strips away the accretions of myth that have built up around the Egyptian queen and plucks off the imaginative embroiderings of Shakespeare, Shaw and Elizabeth Taylor. In doing so, she gives us a cinematic portrait of a historical figure far more complex and compelling than any fictional creation, and a wide, panning, panoramic picture of her world." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Approach this book with caution

An interesting read (or listen) but hardly an objective view of history. It is apparent from the outset that Schiff is a woman with an ax to grind and will not allow the facts to get in the way. Her overriding theme of every negative thing ever written about Cleopatra being false and every positive thing true is at first only annoying but quickly becomes tedious. She takes to task everyone from ancient historians Plutarch and Dio, to Shakespeare and Shaw for supposition, personal prejudices and outright fiction in their writings about Cleopatra and then merrily does the same for over 300 pages. Worse yet, she happily credits those historians whenever they prop up her slant on the subject and disingenuously discredits them when they do not. In the end this is just another persons take on a subject and time that there is very little actual documented accounts.
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- G. Dorrough "JAFOM"

Save your money or credits, please!

This book is truly horrible. I am an historian and history teacher. I can't believe the author wasted her time on this book. It is one of the worst historical accounts I've ever read. No new discoveries and no real story to tell. It could be this, or it could be that. Endless droning about Egypt in general and possible explanations of Cleopatra's choices. This book is so bad it hurt my feelings...lol.
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- M. Hollister "arbiter of great taste"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-02-2010
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio